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The Banality of Death

  • Bob Plant (a1)

Notwithstanding the burgeoning literature on death, philosophers have tended to focus on the significance death has (or ought/ought not to have) for the one who dies. Thus, while the relevance one's own death has for others (and the significance others' deaths have for us) is often mentioned, it is rarely attributed any great importance to the purported real philosophical issues. This is a striking omission, not least because the deaths of others – and the anticipated effects our own death will have on those we leave behind – are normally of great importance outside the confines of academic philosophy. In this paper I want to do three things: (i) argue that philosophers' treatment of death tends to distort the issue (Sections I–III); (ii) outline some of the ways others' deaths figure in how we assess our own mortality (Sections IV–V); and (iii) raise some general questions about the value of ‘theorising’ death (Section VI).

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Robert Kastenbaum , ‘Last words’, The Monist 76 (1993)

Robert Solomon , ‘Death fetishism, morbid solipsism’, in J. Malpas and R.C. Solomon (eds.), Death and Philosophy (London and New York: Routledge, 1998), 152 (hereafter abbreviated DFM)

Amélie Oksenberg Rorty , ‘Fearing Death’, Philosophy 58, 224 (April 1983), 181 (hereafter abbreviated FD)

Linnell Secomb , ‘Philosophical deaths and feminine finitude’, Mortality 4, 2 (1999), 114 (hereafter abbreviated PDF)

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  • ISSN: 0031-8191
  • EISSN: 1469-817X
  • URL: /core/journals/philosophy
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